This dish is as impressive to diners as it is simple to make. The raw scallops have a texture that is more delicate and free of chewiness than a prime piece of tuna. If you find scallops that are of good enough quality, you could just serve them sliced with some salt and a squeeze of lime juice and people would ooh and ah. In a bright and refreshing broth they really shine.
When you go to a restaurant or to a fish market, you’ll see any number of descriptors in front of the scallops: dry, day boat, diver etc. They are all signals of quality, and often somewhat interchangeable. Scallops don’t keep very well, so most are soaked in a phosphate solution to preserve them. “Dry” scallops are not, (hopefully) because they are fresh enough that they do not need to be preserved. “Day boat” scallops mean just that: they came off of the boat that day. “Diver” scallops are picked off rocks by scuba divers rather than farmed. Since they are not fished by a drag net, they pick up less grit and are, therefore, less gritty. For this dish, look for “dry” or “day boat” scallops or just tell your fish monger that you’re serving them raw and ask him if he has any fresh enough to be served that way.
The broth is called a coriander broth because it actually contains two different types of coriander: leaves and seeds. Not everyone realizes but “cilantro” is actually the leaves and stem of the coriander plant. We use toasted coriander seeds for their earthy-nuttiness, and coriander leaves for bite and pop. Young-coconut water gives sweetness, especially if you buy the brands from Asian markets (they’re way closer the actual taste of coconut water than the american brands).
The tobiko provides a briny pop and the cocoa nibs bring out the chocolate and butter flavors of the scallop, but if you can’t find them there are lots of good substitutes. Something bright instead of the tobiko (pomegranate seeds, thinly sliced kumquat) and seeds or nuts (black sesame or peanut) for the cocoa nibs.
Note: the image above is from a slight summer variation on the dish, with corn/tomato broth and sliced stone fruit. Photo cred: Phi Tran.
Scallop crudo in coriander broth with cocoa nibs and tobiko
Buttery raw scallops accented by a simple, fresh broth, topped with crunchy cocoa nibs and tobiko. With the right scallops, this dish is sexier than any fish poke or ceviche.
- 2 tbsp coriander seeds
- 1 can coconut milk -full fat
- 4 tbsp cilantro -leaves rougly picked from the stems
- 1 grapefruit’s worth of grapefruit juice
- .5 cucumbers -roughly chopped
- 1 shallots -peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 cup coconut water -preferably T.A.S brand
- 2 lime’s worth of zest
- 2 lime’s worth of lime juice
- 2 tablespoons agave nectar
- 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
- 1.5 tsp salt
- .5 jalapeños
Heat a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the coriander seeds and toast until they begin to color and are very fragrant, about 2 minutes. Immediately remove them from the pan so that they don’t burn and add them to a a blender.
Add the broth’s remaining ingredients to the blender and blend on high speed for 1-5 minutes- until it is completely blended together. Taste for salt, acidity, heat, and sweetness. It should be almost as salty as the sea, bright, and with light heat and sweetness at the end. Add more salt, lime juice, jalapeño, or agave as needed.
Strain the liquid through a fine mesh strainer, scraping the sides down with a rubber spatula. The holes must be very small to catch the small bits of coriander seed. The resulting liquid should be completely smooth. Set aside until needed. Can me made a few hours in advance.
30 minutes before serving, toss the scallop slices with about a teaspoon and a half of sea salt. Then, when ready to serve, rinse them with cold water.
Pour enough broth into a shallow bowl or plate to cover the bottom. If using live scallops, use the cleaned shell for an awesome presentation.
Place a few slices of scallop in the broth and top with a drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkling of cocoa nibs, a small dollop of tobiko, and a pinch of sea salt. Serve at once.